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Whatever the occasion—Valentine’s Day dinner, swanky Oscars party, holiday appetizer cocktail hour—you need some shortcuts, but you sure as hell don’t want anyone to know you took them. Use a baking mix box, and hide the box! And don’t be lame and make the recipe from the back of the box. Pancakes, biscuits, muffins, and loaves of bread do not a sophisticated appetizer make, but these ideas incorporate box mixes and other tricks that we never dreamed could create something nice enough for a cocktail party nibble (or fancy, nibble-focused dinner). But it can happen! Here’s how.

First, you need the baking mixes. The recipe suggestions below use these products:

Bisquick All-Purpose Mix, $3.33 at Walmart

Not just for pancakes and biscuits anymore.
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King Arthur All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Mix, $5.24 at Walmart

Often out of stock online, but use the store locater on the King Arthur site to find out where it's on shelves near you.
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Jiffy All-Purpose Baking Mix, $5.96 at Walmart

Whip up impressive appetizers in a...well, you know.
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Bob's Red Mill Buckwheat Pancake Mix, 2 for $7.34 at Walmart

A hearty option that goes beyond breakfast.
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Now, here’s how to transform them into stunning bites:

Fig, Brie, and Honey Pinwheels

Betty Crocker

When is the pairing of brie and fig preserves ever a bad idea? I mean, really. And it takes no more than 35 minutes to make. All you need besides the ingredients in the title is butter, milk, Bisquick, and walnuts. Get the Fig, Brie, and Honey Pinwheels recipe.

Buckwheat Blinis

Bob’s Red Mill

Small yeast-leavened pancakes from buckwheat pancake mix do double-duty as a snazzy appetizer. Serve with a dollop of tapenade, hummus with an herb topper, pesto, or something creamy with a salty kick like crème fraiche and caviar. Get the Buckwheat Blinis recipe.

Spinach-Cheese Balls

Betty Crocker

These are a great make-ahead appetizer that you can create up to a month ahead of time and freeze. Then you just bake them for 25 minutes or so. Several people said it’s a good base recipe that you can adjust to your taste, adding another egg, more spices and stronger-tasting cheese, such as parmesan. Get the Spinach-Cheese Balls recipe.

Gluten-Free Cheddar-Chive Sausage Bites

King Arthur Flour

Talk about easy. There are six ingredients, and one is optional (the cayenne pepper). With the prep at 15 minutes and baking at 20 max, ending up with 36 savory, cheesy—and gluten-free!—bites is not a small feat. Get the Gluten-Free Cheddar-Chive Sausage Bites recipe.

Tomato Artichoke Appetizers

Betty Crocker

They’re toasty, pretty, and a refreshing combination that’s a little less typical than the pairing of spinach and artichokes. This is also a 2013 Bisquick Family Favorites Recipe Contest award winner, developed by Karen Haldeman, at the Ohio State Fair. Get the Tomato Artichoke Appetizers recipe.

Pastry Baked Brie

pastry baked brie Jiffy Mix recipe

Jiffy Mix

Baked brie is a decadent classic in which the rich cheese oozes outside its pastry shell. Using Jiffy Pie Crust Mix is a way to make it easier.  Put the contents of a jar of pesto or olive tapenade inside too, and that’ll really make it something else. Get the Pastry Baked Brie recipe.

Cheesy Broccoli Puffs with Sriracha Mayonnaise

Betty Crocker

By buying a package of frozen broccoli that includes cheese sauce (and using Bisquick, obviously), you save a lot of time. This recipe could take only about 20 minutes in actual work. Make extra Sriracha mayo, because it’s good on everything. Get the Cheesy Broccoli Puffs with Sriracha Mayonnaise recipe.

Ham and Cheese Tarts

ham and cheese tarts Jiffy Mix recipe

Jiffy Mix

It’s a tart, so it’s fun and schmancy. And ham and cheese are a standby favorite. Sometimes you don’t need to do that hard of a twist. You could always use Iberico ham, the finest in the world, plus a cheesemonger-recommended selection to make it more high end. Get the Ham and Cheese Tarts recipe.

Mini Crabcake Bites

Betty Crocker

This might be the easiest appetizer recipe of all using Bisquick, especially if you buy pre-chopped onions, peppers, and celery, plus pre-shredded cheddar. You’ll need a mini-muffin tin, which you can also use for extra-tiny pies. Get the Mini Crabcake Bites recipe.

For more handy hacks (that aren’t necessarily so fancy), check out our Easy Recipes to Make with Crescent Rolls.

All featured products are curated independently by our editors. When you buy something through our retail links, we may receive a commission. For more great hand-picked products, check out the Chowhound Shop.

Amy Sowder is a writer and editor based in NYC, covering food and wellness in publications such as Bon Appétit, Women's Health, Eat This, Not That!, Upworthy/GOOD, Brooklyn Magazine, and Westchester Magazine. She loves to run races, but her favorite finish lines are gelato shops. Learn more at
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